I love the library, but I never make enough time to get out there. Fortunately, it’s now incredibly easy to put your library card to use, even if you can’t make it to your local branch.
I found out about the app Libby somewhere on the wild web, and I’ve quickly become enamored with the easy reading app. It’s not stocked with every book in a library, but there are thousands of titles from what’s popular to read to literary favorites.
You can rate books, make a reading list, put a hold on the most popular titles, or “rent” the book for 14 days. The books are not exclusively English either, although options in other languages aren’t that numerous.
Right now, I have holds on Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” and Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” and copies of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Esmeralda Santiago’s “Casi Una Mujer,” Morgan Jerkins’s “This Will Be My Undoing” and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s “The Sympathizer” ready to download when I’m ready to read.
The streaming service Kanopy isn’t available at all libraries, but if you check out their site and find your library listed, you can watch a number of free movies per month (typically eight to 10 titles). They cull from collections both national and international, documentaries and narrative features alike.
For classic movie lovers still bitter that Netflix dropped older titles, Kanopy just added 100-plus Paramount goodies, including “Sunset Boulevard,” “Harold & Maude,” and “Saturday Night Fever.” On the documentary side, you can stream “For Ahkeem,” “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap” and “Kedi,” a film about the stray cats in Istanbul.
Of course, these options are great for busybodies like me, but nothing quite replaces the experience of physically visiting a library. You’ll find many more books and movies on the shelves than are available to stream. Many branches also host discussions, film screenings, classes and other events for free.
A quick look at what’s happening through the branches of the Brooklyn library system shows a resume workshop, a class on mental health awareness, craft time and a flamenco music and dance show. Over at my hometown library down in Florida, there’s a chess club, a film screening, meditation and an intro class to genealogy. Most, if not all, of these events are free to drop in.